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Sondhi gets 2 years in jail

Posted by arnon_k On August - 8 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

Sondhi Limthongkul, founder of Manager newspaper and core member of the People’s Alliance for Democracy, has been sentenced by the Rayong Court to two years imprisonment and fined 200,000 baht for defaming Gen Mongkol Ampornpisit, a former supreme commander.

In the lawsuit filed by Gen Mongkol on Aug 21, 2007, Sondhi was accused of defaming him in comments made on his television programme “Yam Fao Paen Din” broadcast on ASTV.

The court found him guilty as charged and sentenced him to two years in jail and a 200,000 baht fine.

Mr Sondhi was also ordered to publish the court verdict in three daily newspapers – Thai Rath, Daily News and Manager – for three consecutive days.

The PAD leader submitted an application for bail after hearing the court’s verdict. He said he would appeal.

A number of yellow-shirts showed up to give him support.

PAD plans mass rally if unity bills debated

Posted by arnon_k On August - 3 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

Yellow shirts poised to raise stakes to oust govt

Shrugging aside the delays in considering reconciliation legislation, the anti-Thaksin People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) is insisting it will stage a mass rally if the four bills are taken up for debate in the House.

The yellow-shirt group may raise the stakes at the rally to try to oust the Yingluck Shinawatra government, which is sponsoring the bills, in addition to legislators, said PAD co-leader Chamlong Srimuang.

“The best reconciliation is strict law enforcement for wrongdoers,” Maj Gen Chamlong told a press conference at Ban Phra Arthit yesterday.

The PAD’s move came a day after the House reconvened on Wednesday.

The four bills have been proposed by three Pheu Thai MPs, including red-shirt core leader and deputy Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Natthawut Saikua and Matubhum Party leader Sonthi Boonyaratglin, who in 2006 led a coup to topple the Thaksin Shinawatra administration.

Supporters of the bills say the measures are aimed at patching up the long-running quarrel between supporters and opponents of Thaksin, currently in self-imposed exile abroad.

Instead, they are paradoxically leading to a new round of social conflict as critics allege the measures are merely an attempt to whitewash Thaksin, who is accused of abusing his power during his term, and red-shirt protesters who used violence during demonstrations.

Amid fierce opposition to the government’s rush to enact the bills, the Pheu Thai-dominated house on Wednesday decided to move up 10 other bills for consideration next week. The PM’s Office has told the King Prajadhipok Institute, whose reconciliation proposals were used by Gen Sonthi as a basis for his bill, to invite all parties to join countrywide forums on national reconciliation.

But, the PAD said yesterday it will not take part in the forums, known as Sarn Sewana, because it believes the talks have a “set agenda” to benefit certain groups, said PAD co-leader and spokesman Parnthep Pourpongpan.

Pheu Thai spokesman Prompong Nopparit said the PAD’s move was overly paranoid, adding that the group was being narrow minded about the government’s efforts to end the conflict.

Meanwhile, the Truth for Reconciliation Commission, which was set up by the Abhisit Vejjajiva government in the wake of political violence sparked by the red shirts in 2010, will release its final report on the path of national reconciliation early next month.

Rumours of a coup are greatly exaggerated

Posted by arnon_k On June - 6 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

ANALYSIS: For the army, street protests and House mayhem are insufficient grounds for a putsch
Rumours of a new military coup are making the rounds as yellow shirts take to the streets again, this time to rally against the reconciliation bills they view as an attempt to secure the return of exiled former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

In 2006, the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) was seen as attempting to stir up unrest with the hidden agenda of pressuring the army to stage the Sept 19 coup that ousted Thaksin.

This time, the PAD street protest has irritated army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha, prompting him to rule out the possibility of another coup. This, however, has not been enough to calm the rumours.

A scuffle in the House of Representatives sparked by the Democrats’ aggressive attempts to block the reconciliation bills has also fuelled tensions.

And as if that was not enough, red shirt leader Jatuporn Prompan called on fellow United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) supporters nationwide to come out to fight against the rumoured coup. He described the showdown as “the last war”.

Another red shirt leader, Korkaew Pikulthong, claimed the Democrat Party and PAD had been in contact with senior officers to carry out a plot to topple the government.

If the parliament debates a proposed constitution amendment bill, defying a Constitution Court order to suspend proceedings on the issue, the Democrats will ask the court to remove those MPs and senators who voted to pass the bill and seek the dissolution of the Pheu Thai Party, Mr Korkaew said.

He said an influential person was lobbying parties in the coalition government to support the plot to topple the government, promising them “grade A” ministries in a new cabinet.

Another rumour has surfaced, thought to have been spread by pro-red shirt military officials, about a plot to abduct Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and detain her at the 11th Infantry Regiment in the capital’s Bang Khen district.

These wild rumours came as Gen Prayuth held a meeting with the heads of the army units, all military generals, on the morning of June 1, and then chaired another meeting with military colonels in the same afternoon.

The PM and her deputy, Yutthasak Sasiprapa, are said to have called Gen Prayuth directly and were told the two meetings were pre-scheduled and usually held every three months.

The same day, an order to transfer 67 colonels was circulated among the army, reminding many of the transfer of 179 colonels prior to the 2006 coup.

These rumours have shaken the government’s confidence, and Ms Yingluck’s assertions that she was capable of reconciling with Privy Council president Prem Tinsulanonda and Gen Prayuth do not seem so convincing any more.

Defence Minister Sukumpol Suwanatat decided to cut short his trip to attend the Shangri La Dialogue, an annual international security forum in Singapore, and returned to Thailand on June 1, two days ahead of schedule.

Red shirt TV channels speculated that Supreme Commander Gen Thanasak Patimapakorn, not Gen Prayuth, would lead a new coup.

Gen Thanasak later strongly denied this.

Unlike Gen Thanasak, what bothered Gen Prayuth most was not rumours he would lead a coup, but the pressure piled on him by the calls from some demonstrators for the military to resolve political conflicts by staging a coup.

Gen Prayuth thinks the military should remain neutral when it comes to politics.

In the past, classic factors that have driven the military to stage coups were political interference, such as politically motivated reshuffles or an attempt to remove the army chief from his post.

Given the absence of such factors, there appears nothing to compel the military leader to resort to such drastic action, at least for the time being.

Police: Protest will be peaceful

Posted by arnon_k On May - 30 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

Security agencies do not expect any violence during the anti-reconciliation bill protest by the yellow-shirt People’s Alliance for Democracy at the Royal Plaza today, Pol Gen Worapong Chiewpreecha, an adviser to the Royal Thai Police, said on Wednesday.

Pol Gen Worapong was speaking after a meeting of security agencies to assess the situation.

Other groups of people that oppose the bill will also rally near parliament today, but they had promised that their protests will be in line with the law. Some groups might stay overnight in front of parliament building compound, he said.

Police had held talks with the red-shirts, who also planned a mass gathering in front of the parliament. They were asked to drop their plan to rally, avoid any possible confrontation with the rival yellow-shirts. Co-leaders of the United front for Democracy against Dictatorship agreed to comply with the request, he said.

He said 10 companies of metropolitan police will be deployed inside and around parliament building compound to ensure peace and order. Another 10 companies will be standing by at their units, and police at Provincial Police Regions 1, 2 and 7 were on stand by to provide reinforcements if needed.

Intelligence reports concluded that there was no sign that a “third hand” would take this opportunity to incite unrest, said Pol Gen Worapong.